Image: Michel Roy
They are an ancient group of birds, with fossils of some living varieties dating back over 20 million years. A species does not survive that long without being efficient at finding food – in this case prey – and owls are indeed exceptional hunters and top carnivores.
Owls’ appetite for rodents, in particular, has helped maintain a natural balance in the ecosystem, and in many cases it has made them friends to farmers. Here, we’re going to take a look at these incredible creatures, while delving into some facts about their predatory habits.
Previously, we’ve shown you adorable pictures of baby owls. Now it’s time to explore a rather less cute side to these birds – through photographs of them with freshly caught kills.
Image: Tony McLean
As it rises gracefully into the air, we can see how the barn owl pictured here got one of its nicknames: the ghost owl. Here, it does look almost ethereal, but for the hapless rodent gripped in its beak, this flying predator is of course all too real. The furry catch looks like it might be a field mouse, one of the barn owl’s staple foods along with other small creatures like frogs, bats and even baby rabbits.
Image: John Davies
This barn owl has snagged itself a chicken dinner, or a chick of some sort anyway. Barn owls like to seek out prey from perches like this tree stump, before flying down to snatch up the victim. As you can see, they (and many other species of owls) will quite happily eat other birds if they can get hold of them.